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Oakland University
College of Arts and Sciences
Department of Writing and Rhetoric

Winter 2015

Meets: M, 6:30-9:50 in Wilson Hall 400A & Online
Instructor:             Lori Ostergaard
Office Phone:      370-2075
Office:                  O'Dowd 378 (my office is in the main WRT department office O'Dowd)
Office Hours:       Monday (and meetings by appointment)
Course Web Page:

Catalog description: Explores the rhetorical, ethical, stylistic, and technical principles of creating personal, observational, and ethnographic narratives through visual and digital productions -- slide shows, videos, graphic-intensive web sites, posters, flip books, and comics. Prerequisite: WRT 160 with a 2.0 or higher

Rationale: Digital Storytelling is a sophomore level elective course that attends to 21st century forms of literacy, focusing on the creation of nonfiction creative narratives through images and text. This course explores the rhetorical, ethical, stylistic, and technical principles of creating personal, observational, and ethnographic narratives through visual and digital productions -- slide shows, videos, graphic-intensive web sites, posters, flip books, and comics. This course takes the rhetorical principles and research methods students study in WRT 160, combines those principles with elements from creative writing, and applies both to the production of graphic intensive texts delivered over the internet. This medium provides students will authentic rhetorical situations to address, a means of addressing a large and engaged listening/viewing/reading audience, and the motivation to conduct meaningful primary research in the local community. Students learn to construct graphic intensive texts, deal ethically with their sources, gather additional materials without violating fair use and copyright laws, collaborate with their peers to produce digital stories for distribution over the internet, and use video-editing software to produce digital productions.

Learning Objectives

Upon successful completion of this course students will be able to:

Course Format: This course will be a combination of class discussion and hands-on individual and group activities. Students will discuss rhetorical principles and design principles of the various formats and will construct their own projects using graphic imaging software, slide show software, and video editing software. Students will complete weekly written reflections, complete individual projects in two mediums (slide show and digital story), compose a collaborative video project, and explore mediums of distribution such as web pages and Youtube. Students will write reflective papers for each of their individual and group projects and compose a final reflective paper (1,000-2,000 words) analyzing the rhetorical and stylistic principles that they employed in their course projects and add selected course projects, rationales, and reflections to their Distributed Portfolio.

Student Learning Assessment: Assessment will be based on the students’ successful completion of each of the assignments:

30%      Online group discussions and in-class mini-projects; short stories; homework; quizzes; etc.
15%      Project 1: Digital Memoir (and written reflection on that project)
15%      Project 2: Family History (and written reflection on that project)
15%      Project 3: Community Story or Documentary (and written reflection on that project)
15%      Final reflective Paper
10%      Distributed Portfolio

Required Materials:

Online Storage Space (GoogleDrive, Dropbox, etc)
Access to open source or purchased photo, audio, and video editing software
YouTube Account
Google Site or website or wiki

Course Readings:
Online readings as assigned in Moodle

Outline of Course Content

Weeks 1-2: Basic rhetorical principles and design principles in the construction of graphic intensive texts; fair use guidelines; creating posters and still frames; Creating Slideshows; Project 1 Assigned
Weeks 3-4: Peer review of Project 1;ethical treatment of human subjects (IRB); Project 2 assigned
Weeks 5-6: Project 1, Memoir, due with reflection; Working with audio, recording, mixing, creating music
Weeks 7-8: Project 2, Family History due for peer review;
Weeks 9-10: Project 2 due with reflection; project 3 assigned: group community story or documentary; distribution: Web 2.0; community advocacy
Weeks 10-11: Project 3 Due for peer review

Weeks 12-14: Revisions to Project 3 and to one other major project; Portfolio assigned; Film show and party

Course Policies

Accommodations: Students with disabilities who may require reasonable accommodations should make an appointment with OU’s Disability Support Services office for assistance, by calling (248) 370-3266 or TTY: (248) 370-3268; faxing (248) 370-4989; or e-mailing

Academic Conduct Policy: Cheating on examinations, plagiarism, falsifying reports/records, and unauthorized collaboration are considered serious breaches of academic conduct. The Oakland University policy on academic conduct will be strictly followed with no exceptions. See the university catalog under Academic Policies and Procedures for more information.

Attendance Policy: All OU classes will adhere to the OU Excused Absence Policy found at: Otherwise, students in WRT courses are allowed a number of absences equivalent to one week during the regular semester, which would be one absence in our class, including absences due to absent-mindedness, illness, car trouble, or schedule conflicts. For each absence beyond the one absence allowed, your grade will be deducted by 0.2 points on the 4.0 scale. Please be aware that students missing the equivalent of more than three combined weeks of class (more than the equivalent of 3 of our once-weekly classes) are not eligible to receive a grade above 0.0 in WRT 233. Please be aware too that failure to complete online assignments by the deadline for that assignment will result in your being counted absent for that online class. There are no make-up assignments for missed online work.

Social Practices: I hope for lively, interesting, and informed discussion throughout the semester. I expect that you will respect your classmates and me by coming to class on time, prepared, and, if not entirely excited to be here, at least willing to fake it for our sakes. I expect you to be respectful to your peers, to me, and to anyone else you encounter in the course of completing research for this class.

Late Work: Work submitted late will be graded one full grade lower for each class period (this includes online class periods) it is late. I reserve the right to fail any work submitted a week or more after the deadline. I also reserve the right not to respond to or return late work until after I have caught up on my other work. After you have submitted two late assignments, any additional projects submitted late will not receive a grade above 0.0. Late projects cannot be revised for a better grade. Please Note: any work completed after the deadline on Moodle will not receive a grade.

The Evil Computer Ate My Homework Excuses: are rarely acceptable these days (their only real chance of working is in the event of a whole system--like the entire OU network-failure and even then you're skating on very thin ice). We're all expected to deal with technology and deal with it responsibly everyday of our adult lives, so err on the side of obsessive when it comes to saving the documents you're working on. And to be safe, write your longer Moodle responses in Word or Notepad and copy/paste them into the Moodle forum after you have spell/checked them and saved them. This will prevent you from experiencing the heartbreak of writing a response only to find that Moodle didn't save that response for you.

Adds/Drops: The University add/drop policy will be explicitly followed. It is your responsibility to be aware of the university deadline dates for dropping this course.